Monday, January 19, 2009

Savings Tip- eBay, Store Research, Comparison Shopping

Hello All-

I am currently building a house and I am moving into the phase of interior decorating. This is always a challenge as you have so many things to think about and of course I am looking for bargains. I am not on a strict time line, so I can be a bit flexible and search out my options, but even if you are on a time crunch for picking up a specific item, this is a worthy savings tip!

I am currently working on acquiring all my lighting fixtures (don't stop reading if you think this wouldn't apply to you, the savings idea can apply to all types of products!). I have decided to go with a certain finish (oil rubbed bronze). I have a limited budget and I want to stick to it, but I also want high end fixtures that will last a LONG time! This is a hard combination as I have found out! I want simple classic pieces and you would think the simpler the easier, but often the simple items are found in high end retail establishments, that would burst my budget in a few fixtures!

Alas, I started researching to see what I could get for the best price and within budget. I started off by making a list of what I needed. I then picked my style (vintage farmhouse meets old schoolhouse look). I knew I had a look to stick with, but I was flexible (depending on price) on what my actual fixtures looked like. I checked several stores that carry "period lighting" and a local hardware store to see what I had to work from. I found that some of the stores that carry "period lighting" were way over priced for the materials and others could deliver and customize at a reasonable price. I decided my best bets were to look at 2 stores (Rejuvenation-Portland) and Restoration Hardware on-line.

I had reviewed what Rejuvenation carried and their process. I knew the lighting lingo (enough to communicate) and my parameters for lighting needs. I called the store directly to see when they might offer a sale. This is a great idea as many stores offer semi or annual sales on certain product lines and if you can wait, you stand to gain a great deal of savings. I called on Jan. 9, I found out that they were having a sale on Jan 17. I visited the store on Jan 11 and was disappointed to find out that the sale was only for damaged/returned/clearance, etc rummage sale instead of a 1st quality sale. I missed that sale (Nov/Dec)....rats! I knew this store was above my budget, but I loved the look of the period pieces they offer and for the price I can't find anything else comparable. I talked to an associate who let me in on a few secrets! The items for the rummage sale were currently available prior to the rummage sale at a reduced price. They would go an additional 25% off once the sale started and they would go for a larger discount off as the sale continued to run and the inventory would increase the day of the initial sale. This was excellent news (it cost me nothing, but to ask!!). My husband and I ran up the stairs to see what they had. We were able to score 4-5 fixtures at a fraction of the original price and decided to make the trek to Portland again for the rummage sale to see if we could pick up a few more pieces at the additional discount. On Jan. 17 (opening day of sale), we drove up to Portland and I am happy to report picked up 6 additional fixtures and a doorbell chime for 60% off original retail! I was so excited adding up the savings on the way home! It took some time, but so far I am within budget and I got the fixtures that were my first pick! None of the pieces I purchased had any defects, it was a real blessing.

I was able to do this because:
-I inquired about sales/talked to the associate to get insider information (always offer to get a business card or make sure they get credit for the sale if they are on commission)
-I was willing to spend my time (driving) and time (rummaging) to save some BIG bucks!

Restoration Hardware is another company that offers some bathroom hardware/ceiling fan and other misc. items that I am interested in, but at prices I am not! I called the store to see if they were offering some special incentives (they were not) or to see if I could ship an item from the store that was offered catalog/web only for no shipping (you can't either!...many stores let you do ask!) so I was hitting a brick wall! I was frustrated, the closest outlet is in Seattle (road trip?), but that seemed pointless as I don't want to drive too far and eat up my savings in gas, so I checked out eBay for the items that I wanted to see if I could find them. I really wanted this Acero Ceiling Fan, on sale at Restoration for $459, optional remote $40. I got it on eBay for $220 with in box! That is a great savings! I also picked up a doorbell (regularly $50) for $16.95! Since then, Restoration Hardware is currently offering a good incentive deal which I might take advantage of if I can't find my items on eBay.

How I did this:
-Call the store directly always and see if they are offering any specials or inquire if they will match competitor store deals. Also, some stores will ship items if purchased in the store if they aren't actually carried in the ask!
-Search on eBay for the matching item. Sometimes you can get these items at far below retail value. For example, the fan I wanted was a name brand that RH sells, but so do other stores, so I was able to save a bundle and get my first pick item!

If you have some time to wait, have some time to devote to research (or ask your child to research for you...they are good at that!), can be a bit flexible-you can save a bundle of money. I have already saved over $1000 on retail price of my housing fixtures and am below budget. I worked the system to my advantage, got my 1st level picks and can be proud I didn't just pick up the phone or log on and paid full price for these items!

Happy Saving!

Summer H.

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